Resort Areas

Kololi and Kotu are the two busiest resort areas in The Gambia  - and where a good portion of the hotels we offer are situated; but there other resort areas along the Atlantic Coast, all with different charms and points of interest.

Bakau

Bakau is a bustling town with a maze of small dirt roads and is an ideal area to experience the real Gambia.

Bakau can be a bit overwhelming if you've not travelled in Africa before - but it's so alive and so full of colour and life it'd be a real shame to miss out. We advise either hooking up with a few other people who want to visit, or finding yourself a friendly taxi driver to help you out.

There are a few excellent restaurants serving traditional Gambian dishes along with banks, supermarkets, post office and the popular Kachikally crocodile pool. There is a very good craft market and local fruit and vegetable market along with the famous fish market which is a sight (and smell)  to behold.

This area of coastline is quite dramatic with red rock cliffs interspersed with small beaches. Care should be taken if swimming in this area.

 

Banjul

Banjul is one of the smallest capitals in Africa and given it is located on an island - St Mary’s Island, a sandbank at the south of the River Gambia - there is little room for expansion.

It is a strange mixture of colonial buildings, shanty buildings and modern offices and is the main administrative centre for the country. Bathurst (as Banjul was originally called) was founded in the early 19th century by the British Army and Royal Navy as a military base to prevent the continuation of the slave trade along the River Gambia. The name was changed to Banjul shortly after The Gambia received its independence from Britain in 1965.

Banjul is relatively easy to navigate as the roads are laid out in a grid. The heart of the city is 22 July Square and Albert Market where you can buy anything from spices to shoes. This is where most local residents do their daily shopping, whilst the small tourist and craft market behind offers a good selection of local crafts and some more unusual pieces from neighbouring countries such as Mali and Guinea Bissau. Although Banjul has little specifically aimed at tourists, it is an interesting place and a hive of activity with plenty of hustle and bustle. Banjul Museum, situated in the centre of Banjul, has many items of interest relating to tribal traditions, music, agriculture and the British Colonial years, right up to the present day.

 

Brufut

Brufut is approximately 10 minutes south of Kololi - and remains one of the quieter areas of coastal Gambia.

This large guarded and gated community encloses luxury villas and was purpose built by the Government to have a secured place to lodge the 52 presidents expected to attend the 7th AU summit in 2006. Within easy reach from the capital and the economic centre, by the Kombo Coastal Highway, it’s an ideal situation for a residence and seems the perfect place for the Sheraton Hotel, giving direct views over the sandy beaches and the Atlantic Ocean.

The beach at Brufut is quiet, unspoilt and private.

Brufut beach

 

Bijilo

The beauty of Bijilo is there is very little here! Situated about five minutes south of Kololi there are no restaurants or nightclubs to disturb the peace, just a couple of beach bars on a long stretch of beach with very few people on it.

This is a wonderfully unspoilt long sandy stretch of sand with only a couple of smaller hotels here and no beach bars or restaurants. It is really empty except for the odd fruit seller - perfect for a relaxing day.

Beach at Bijilo


Local Restaurants

 
The Courtyard & Safran restaurants

Al fresco or interior dining for champagne breakfasts and evening dinners with a range of cuisine options.

Coco Beach Restaurant

Grills and salads for lunch with stunning views; extensive Thai menu in the evenings.

 

Cape Point

Cape Point is generally speaking a quieter area than Kololi, but this is gradually changing as more shops and restaurants appear. There are also craft stalls, a minimarket and taxi rank. Bakau is a 10 minute walk from here.

The beach at Cape Point is stunning - a wide sweep of yellow sand that seems to stretch into the distance; and like the area in general, it tends to be that little bit quieter than Kololi or Kotu.

Cape Point beach


Local Restaurants

 
Fine Dining:

Red Croc - Cape Point

Ocean Bay's à la carte restaurant with an unrivalled position next to the ocean.

Red Croc Menu

International:

Calypso - Cape Point

Spectacular beach side setting for informal dining.

 

Fajara

A popular residential area for both Gambians and expats with some modern and exclusive buildings and home to the British High Commission and MRC (Medical Research Centre).

Located between Kotu and Bakau, Fajara boasts a number of very good restaurants a short taxi ride away. The coastline is rocky interspersed with secluded beaches. Fajara also has an 18-hole golf course, just a few hundred metres from the beach. The greens are generally a little browner than you might be used to, and the heat can be fierce during the day, but it's not a bad spot for a quick round... There are other facilites available at the golf course including tennis courts, squash courts and a swimming pool.

This area of coastline is quite dramatic with red rock cliffs interspersed with small beaches. Care should be taken if swimming in this area.

Local Restaurants

 
Fine Dining:

Ngala Lodge - Fajara

Fantastic international cuisine with a Mediterranean influence in a superb location overlooking the ocean.

Indian:

The Clay Oven - Fajara

Longstanding and extremely popular Indian restaurant.

The Clay Oven Menu

International:

Butcher's Shop - Fajara

Quality restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 

Kartong

Kartong is one of the oldest and unspoilt coastal villages at the southern most tip of the Kombo Coastal Road. Set very close to the Senegalese border it homes the only sand mine in Gambia plus a fishing centre.

Kartong, however, is possibly better known for its festival usually held in March hosting the very best of music and dance in West Africa.

Further south along the Atlantic coast you can be assured of some secluded and deserted beaches. The sand is golden with varying widths as you travel along the coast , although primarily used by local fishermen to land their boats. Be sure to find a secluded spot if wearing swimwear to avoid offending the locals.

 

Kololi

Kololi is by far the most established resort area. ‘The strip’ as it is known locally, consists of a number of bars and a couple of nightclubs, frequented by both locals and tourists.

Kololi could probably be called the heart of the tourist industry in The Gambia with a selection of excellent hotels and some of the country's best restaurants.

There are a large number of places to eat serving a variety of cuisine styles on the Kololi strip - you can get anything from an excellent curry, a Lebanese dish or a more traditional Gambian meal. There are two casinos on the strip not to mention a whole host of bars and clubs - all of which throb into the early hours. The strip also boasts banks & exchange bureaus, internet cafes and shops. It is generally fairly relaxed in the day and really comes into its own during the evening and night.

The beach outside the Senegambia and Kairaba hotels continues to suffer from erosion due to the strong Atlantic currents.  Although there is still some space for sunbeds, there is a drop to sea level with steps outside The Kairaba hotel linking the levels. You can walk along the beach here at low tide, either up to Bijilo or along to the Kotu area.

Local Restaurants

 
Indian:

Jewel of India - Kololi

Good value for money Indian restaurant.

Asian:

Tao - Kololi

South East Asian cuisine - Particularly popular for its buffets.

Lebanese:

Al Basha - Kololi

First class Lebanese restaurant offering a selection of Eastern specialities.

Mediterranean:

The Vineyard, The Village Complex – Kololi

Gambia’s newest restaurant offering a refreshing experience.

Mexican:

El Sol, The Village Complex – Kololi

A contemporary a hot spot for cocktails, tapas and Mexican specialities.

International:

Gaya Art Café - Kololi

Assortment of cakes, high tea, cocktails, lunch and sundowner service.

Jo Jo's Bistro & Wine Bar - Kololi

Small but tasteful menu with daily specials.

The Kora - Kololi

Bar & restaurant for drinks and/or dinner.

Scala - Kololi

Danish family run restaurant - European menu with excellent steaks.

Love 2 - Kololi

Recently established by Togolese owner & chef Cyril, serving international cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere.

 

Kotu

Kotu boasts some excellent hotels, with Kombo Beach dominating the beach front. There is also the quieter charm of Bakotu and the popular Bungalow Beach. The area also has a busy and boisterous craft market in which you can find batiks and all manner of superb wood carvings.

Kotu has a number of good restaurants including the excellent Sailor's which is along the beach from Bungalow. Past the Bungalow Beach hotel there are also now a couple of beach bars and the golf course is also nearby.

Another wide sandy beach which is fairly flat although not a very deep beach in terms of distance to the ocean. The area outside the Sunset Beach can change quite dramatically depending on the direction of the Kotu stream.

Kotu Stream

The Kotu area is very fertile thanks to the presence of the Kotu stream and consequently harbours an astonishingly wide range of bird species. The bridge over the stream is a legendary spot from which to watch birds, and it is said that you can spot up to 100 species in a day, though this remains a currently unclaimed rumour. Whatever the truth, you can comfortably stand here all day and see all manner of waders, kingfishers, birds of prey and great clouds of whistling ducks as they fly from their roosts out to sea. There are always plenty of government-sponsored guides on hand as well, all prepared to show you around the area and impart their considerable birding wisdom.

Local Restaurants

 

Jewel of India Menu

Gambian:

Boss Lady - Kotu

Gambian open air restaurant/cafe.

International:

The Brasserie - Kombo Beach Hotel, Kotu

Great food in a relaxed atmosphere plus ocean views.

The Brasserie Menu

Captain's Table - Kotu

Excellent food in an attractive outdoor setting.

 

Makasutu

Makasutu is a tropical 1000-acre reserve encompassing five different eco systems including gallery forest, savannah, mangroves, palm forest and wetland. Wildlife is plentiful here with many bird species, monitor lizards, baboons, monkeys and the occasional mongoose can be spotted at the riverbanks.

The project at Makasutu, meaning ‘sacred forest’ in Mandinka, was founded by two British men, the late James English & Lawrence Williams. The ‘cultural forest’ is now a popular and premier eco tourist destination.

The cultural forest is still home to the indigenes people of the area, which visitors can meet on expertly led guided walks through the bush after learning the history and myths of Makasutu. Visitors even have the chance to sample locally famed palm wine and observe the oyster women on their daily collections or visit Makasutu’s holy Marabou man. Crafted dug out canoes, also known as pirogues are also another popular activity, drifting along in amongst the mangroves of the river with a likelihood of seeing a variety of local birdlife.

Wide Open Walls

The Makasutu area in October 2010, was host to the first Wide Open Walls project. The village of Kubuneh was turned into a living art installation by a number of the world's leading street artists, including Eelus, Broken Crow and Logan Hicks. The project is going to be an ongoing one, with villagers tending and adding to the artworks, and new artists returning each year to continue the development. The Wide Open Walls project will be part of the Makasutu excursion and if you wish to see it in action then please speak to your rep.

The Wide Open Walls blog.

 

River Gambia National Park

The national park was established in 1978 and is made up of a complex of 5 islands that lie on the downstream of Janjangbureh, Georgetown. The 5 island are collectively known as Baboon Islands which cover an area of approximately 1,445 acres (585 ha.) and are relatively flat. It forms one of the last refuges for the very threatened hippopotamus within The Gambia. Their ecological systems range from lush jungle rainforest, reeds, savannah and mangrove swamps.

An interesting place to visit is the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project which lies on the banks of the river and was established in 1969 to rescue orphaned chimps. There are currently about fifty Chimpanzees living on 3 of the larger islands. The population is steadily increasing through births. In addition to reintroducing an indigenous species to the country, the existence of the park's project on Baboon Islands has assisted in protecting the forest and its resources from over exploitation Though it is not possible to land on the islands as it is a conservation project, it possible to see the creatures while on a boat cruise or you could stay at the projects accommodation camp located on the river bank and see them up close. The animal life on this section of the River Gambia National Park includes hippopotamus, Nile crocodiles and monkeys and many species of birds.

 

South Kotu

South Kotu is compact with a cluster of bars and restaurants with just a couple of small hotels here. The restaurants and bars are situated on the road leading down to the beach.

South Kotu is a quiet area. Here you'll find a few very good restaurants, and a couple of bars and stalls. We highly recommend the Shiraz restaurant if you fancy some Lebansese food!

Local Restaurants

 
Italian:

Luigi's - South Kotu

Italian dishes served throughout the day and evening, popular for home made ice-creams.

Lebanese:

Shiraz - South Kotu

Excellent home cooked Lebanese food, very popular.